G.S. v. Georgia (Application No 2361/13)

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The child, L, was born in Ukraine on 29 July 2004. The applicant mother was a Ukrainian national and the respondent father a dual Georgian-Ukrainian national.
In mid-2005 the father left Ukraine for Russia. The child, L, continued to live with his mother in Ukraine and attended a pre-school educational institution in Kharkiv. The father visited them twice in 2005 and 2006.
In September 2006 the couple had a daughter, T. On 22 July 2010, T, died in a tragic accident, falling from the window of an apartment. The child, L, witnessed the accident and was subsequently diagnosed with an adjustment disaorder.
On 30 July 2010 the applicant mother allowed the father to take their son to Georgia for the summer holidays. The mother signed a document authorising the father to travel the child to Georgia and Russia between 30 July 2010 and 28 February 2011. According to the mother, the child was expected to return to Kharkiv by the end of August in order to start primary school in September, at which he had been pre-enrolled.
On 13 August 2010, the applicant learned when talking on the telephone with her son that the latter would not be returning to Ukraine and would be staying in Georgia. The child was living with his uncle and grandfather while the father was living in Russia and only occasionally visiting his son in Georgia.
The mother made an application under the Hague Convention for the return of the child to Ukraine.
In May 2011, the Tbilisi City Court refused to order the return of the child, concluding that the return would expose him to a psychological risk on account of the separation it would entail from his father and the trauma he had suffered in the country as a result of the death of his sister. The mother’s argument that her son was suffering from an adjustment disorder and from a lack of contact with his parents was dismissed.
In March 2011, in parallel proceedings in Ukraine, a district court ordered that the child should be returned to Ukraine.
In August 2012, the Supreme Court of Georgia upheld the first instance refusal to return ? also relying on the social workers’ and psychologist’s reports ? concluded that L.’s interests would be better protected if he remained in Georgia on account of the risk of psychological harm if he were returned to Ukraine, which he had left primarily on account of the trauma he had suffered followed the death of his sister.
The mother brought the case before the ECtHR relying on Article 8.